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SHS band marks fifth year of superior ratings

October 26, 2011

By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
sdnedu@bellsouth.net

For the fifth year in a row, Starkville High School’s marching band received superior ratings in all the competitions it participated in during the season.
The band competed in three regional competitions this year: the Tenn-Tom Marching Classic in Aberdeen, the Mississippi High School Activities Association State Festival in Grenada, and the Chunky River Marching Invitational in Union.
“We had a fabulous season. We won our class at all the contests we went to, received straight superior ratings — they just did a fabulous job this year,” SHS band director Shawn Sullivan said. “The show was very entertaining. We would have people coming up to us from the stands just saying how well they liked our show.”
The SHS halftime show is called “Shuffle,” named after the feature on iPods that chooses songs at random. The band plays a variety of songs from different genres and eras in music.
“It was our two field commanders arguing about what they want to listen to on their iPod,” Sullivan said. “It had a bunch of different music and had things like a guitar solo, a saxophone solo. One of the highlights was that one of our trumpet players is also a fiddle player. He played the fiddle solo to ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia,’ so those solos were really big with the crowds. There was something in the show for everybody.”
The halftime show even featured a dialog from the field commanders which was often personalized with jokes about specific competition judges. The routine added an unexpected touch to their performance.
“It was a really fun show. It was fun to go to the contests because in the first song, everyone would start clapping and I would turn around and start talking and everyone would be like, ‘Wait, what,’” field commander Katie Wood said.
The risk paid off in a big way for the SHS band, not just at the competitions, but at the football games as well.
“Overall, I think we were the crowd favorite almost everywhere we went. There were some other bands that were really good bands, but their shows were just more traditional. I told them at the beginning of the year, ‘We’re stepping out on a limb here.’ You never know how this will be received,” Sullivan said. “But they played so well and marched so well.”
The band received a number of honors at the various competitions, including Superior Band, Superior Guard, Superior Percussion, Superior Majorette, Superior Field Commander, best in class for the band, guard, percussion, as well as first place awards for the band and majorette.
“It feels good to know that we can do that, but we’re also working towards getting better and growing as a band, too,” field commander Kashayla McGee said.
This Friday night, the Starkville High School football team will have its last home football game.
The school is taking the chance to honor their band members.
It will be the official “band night” of the season, featuring a special performance from the Armstrong Middle School band and a band alumni tailgating tent before the game.
“This has been a such a great year and this is a great group of kids,” Sullivan said. “It’s almost as if the superior ratings are expected now— which is a good thing because they know that they have to perform at that level. They work really hard.”

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